Saturday, 1 November 2014

Royal Holloway: somewhere between central London and Narnia

Somewhere between central London and Narnia ?

Saturday morning football dad Julian chose to study maths and management at Royal Holloway because it promoted the idea of being London's green campus.  And the three to one dominance of women.  Unsurprisingly he met his future wife during his degree studies, which is certainly a modern fairytale.  Staff and graduates like Jules are entitled to get married on campus, where the chapel is awe inspiring, even to those with out a religious faith.  Others, like Albert and Elena just magically met under the turret shadows, and then got married happily ever after.  

Having opened the imposing campus walls to all decades ago, recent data suggests that the 1886 college built for Victorian ladies has close to gender parity across its student body.  A pleasing equality trend that is mirrored on the MBA programme, which typically see a 2 to 1 male:female ratio in other institutions.

Gok Kwan:  How to Look Good Naked

RoHo's insiders nickname for the red brick chateau Founders is Harry Potter inspired 'Hogwarts' and described in degree finding websites as one of the world's most stunning university buildings. The Telegraph named Royal Holloway as one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. The popular science open day picks up on this child friendly concept by bringing in a beautiful collection of owls that seem just to fit in naturally.  Film crews are no strangers inside the campus walls, with Basic Instinct 2 using the stunning Oxbridge like setting.  TV series like Gok Kwans dressing up show, How to Look good naked: with a difference, hit historic drama Downton Abbey and Brian Cox's star gazing.  

Abnormally Funny People, a group of stand up comedians with disabilities performed their sets at the 400 seat Windsor auditorium and in describing the college on a hill nestled between the  Wentworth estate, Englefield Green and the Runnymeade meadow that saw the Magna Carta sealed, the line "somewhere between London and Narnia" was cracked, much to the appreciation of the young crowd.  I wish I had originated this attention grabbing phrase, and have been determined to use it as an inspiration for a more creative post.  I hope I have done such a good hook justice.

Polar Bears savaging Franklin's shipwreck





Rather than Azlan the Lion,  Holloway celebrity associations are with bears; the Franklin ship polar bears and stuffed grisly popular as a prank stunt double until its mysterious disappearance, that gives its name to the American football team.   Even the MBA students got in on the act with this costume bear stunt.




The 135 acres of woodland peppered with formal gardens, sports fields and lawns it is not uncommon to see deer wandering around, as well as scientists studying bees and biodiversity on the green roof that tops the Gower wedderburn student flats.  It would not be a surprise to turn a corner and to find pink flamingoes playing croquet in the quad.

With rose red and white domino checker patterns inside the two quads and a stunning hillside of sun coloured daffodils might evoke a feeling of Alice in Wonderland.  Having glugged a Starbucks espresso in cafe Jules the very human scale of the campus can transform you into the feeling of being minuscule under the shadow of founders, but yet standing on the shoulders of giants in the former chemistry lab that is now the ultra modern home of the School of Management.



Visit the place and you are just intoxicated.  I have numerous visit requests from friends and business contacts who have driven by, unable to resist the captivating chimney roof line that stands teasingly over the security of the campus perimeter walls, gagging for the chance to walk around this amazing heritage site.


"Pinch me, I have fallen out of the back of a wardrobe !"